Thursday, April 21, 2011

Glee?

In the latest issue of Self Magazine, Gwyneth Paltrow "shares her secrets for eating healthy and having a body to envy."  Paltrow, promoting her new book, My Father's Daughter:  Delicious, Easy Recipes Celebrating Family & Togetherness, discusses the evolution of her relationship with food, from developing an interest in cooking with her father; to adhering to an organic, local, macrobiotic diet (eliminating dairy, sugar, meat, liquor, and gluten); to fulfilling pregnancy cravings; and finally to preparing delicious offerings for those she loves.  Sounds good, right?

But then, in a sidebar titled, "How She Got That Body," Paltrow is interviewed regarding her exercise regime.  The super-slim Paltrow, who admits to being in the best shape of her life, fesses up to 90 minutes of exercise five days a week.  She goes on to say, "If I'm prepping for something or I've been eating a lot of pie, I do two hours a day, six days a week for two weeks."

Last I checked, this constitutes excessive exercise.  I get that stars like Paltrow have to look the part, and I understand that logging hours with celebrity trainers and chefs helps them fit the bill.  However, exercising more to compensate for one's eating (and by more, I mean hours more a week!) gets a little fuzzy, don't you think?

Self advertises the story to explain how Paltrow arrived "at her happy relationship with food."  Paltrow seems to enjoy cooking and eating, even her no-fry fries, recipe included, her raw almonds, and homemade kale and lemon juice.  But, it's the relationship she's forged between food and exercise that seems not-so-happy to me.  Paltrow states, "I say I always eat right, but last night, I had fried clams, pasta with duck sausage and two glasses of red wine.  When I want to lose, I eat less pasta, bread and potatoes. Before last year's Iron Man 2 premiere, I did green juices and salads for three days."

So that's how celebrities achieve the red-carpet look!

When asked about her motivation for working out, Paltrow responds, "I like feeling strong and healthy, but mostly I think about the fried zucchini I'll eat later."

My concern is that millions of readers may believe that exercise-as-compensation is the way to go.  Many women will come to me in frustration that they can't maintain a celebrity diet (think the magazine sidebars we often see, detailing the egg-white breakfast, salad-with-grilled-chicken lunch, and fish-and-veggie dinner that many celebs will tout).

What I try to remind people is that most of us do not live celebrity lifestyles, have celebrity staff, or know what goes on behind closed doors.  Just like non-celebs, stars will often go to extreme, unhealthy measures to maintain their weight.  I'm not trying to condemn Paltrow's food or exercise choices.  It's just important for us to recognize that Gwyneth isn't gospel, that a celebrity's relationship with food or her body is not always attainable or ideal.

22 comments:

FatAngryBlog said...

That's how I feel about celebrity diets and even most weight-loss reality shows. Let's face it, how many of us have the money and time to train and shop and eat for the best results?

I Hate to Weight said...

i've had the same thoughts about Gwyneth Paltrow. she's always hyping some cleanse, and i know she exercises tons.

then it always seems weird that she's sooo involved in food and cooking.

everything else aside -- who has that kind of time?

Natasha said...

I take all of that stuff with a grain of salt. If you don't eat and exercise all the time you'll look skinny (not necessarily healthy). That's why, in my opinion, they have those tabloid pictures of celebrities looking "fat". No, that's how they look when they are acting normally.

Amanda said...

A lot of people don't realize the impact that having a personal trainer and private dietician make-- celebrity lifestyles don't resemble the average woman's lifestyle at all, and it isn't our job to fit mainstream beauty standards the way it is for so many celebrities.

~ Caroline Correll Gebhardt ~ said...

Even before the exercise "tips and motivation", what makes me raise my eyebrows is the phrase "to adhering to an organic, local, macrobiotic diet (eliminating dairy, sugar, meat, liquor, and gluten)" - First, the restricting/eliminating all those food items is extreme, and second, WHO IN THE WORLD has the time/resources to eat this way? Okay, well, besides celebs. Like someone else said, I take "celeb advice" with a grain of salt, but it does worry me for young girls who will use her words as gospel for controlling their own bodies. It scares me because I used to be one of them, and it took YEARS for me to stop my disordered eating patterns and rely on intuitive eating to steer my body and mind to a happy place. ...I'm glad I found this blog. Keep up the good work.

Lina (of Flushed) said...

I appreciate her honesty. It's a lose/lose situation for her, it seems. She gets a lot of flack because she is a celebrity. Plenty of food obsessed people out there, whether it be healthy food or otherwise. She's damned if she lies. Damned if she tells the truth.

What do we expect to hear? Interviewers ask and if she doesn't answer she will get flack for that as well. It's not easy looking celeb fab, because she'll get ridiculed for gaining a few pounds too.

The problem is the demand for the who/what/where/how they look the way that they do. We are ALL a part of the problem. It's an ever perpetuating cycle. A cycle of fuckery, I call it. Any which way you go it's fuckery.

It's a matter of who is going to take the initiative of stopping it.

Society is responsible for the high magazine sales and creating the demand for these types of articles regarding food/exercise/etc. They mags make a "demand" of knowing to the celebs. Celebs want to be in the magazines in a favorable light and so they "supply."

C.o.F.

azusmom said...

It's true that it's a vicious circle, but it's also a chicken/egg thing: does Hollywood/Madison Avenue (and the fashion industry) give the public what it wants, or does Hollywood dictate taste/public opinion?
Having spent a number of years in the "Industry," I think it's the latter. I lived in New York when Kate Moss and "heroine chic" became all the rage, and then lived in L.A when the "Ally McBeal/lollipop head" craze started. In both cases, the industry created the idea that thin, thinner, thinnest is best, and we had the invention of size 00.
I sat in cafes and watched women order water with lemon, then chain smoke while their boyfriends chowed down on burgers and fries. They then leaned heavily on said boyfriends as they walked back to their cars, with barely enough strength to stand on their own.
How can we expect celebrities to be enlightened about food and exercise when they are heavily rewarded for their neuroses? The only way they feel that can keep working is to look and behave a certain way. Some are very open and honest about it, and many will lie and say they are just naturally thin and eat cheeseburgers ever day, when, in fact, they starve and over-exercise.
We need to stop holding celebrities up as paragons of health, and realize that many are the exact opposite. Where to start? I'm not sure. Turning off the weight loss reality shows, entertainment news shows and putting the magazines back on the rack is probably a good start. Once those stop making money, we'll see less of them.

Amanda said...

Thank you for sharing this. I admit, I have been "duped" by Gwyneth Paltrow - I even became obsessed with her blog GOOP at one point, holding her as a nutrition goddess....now that I am finally seeking treatment for a ten year disorder, I couldn't agree with you more about this blog. THIS blog should be front cover magazine news on the cover of Health magazines...

Leigh Purtill said...

The most honest thing Paltrow - or any celebrity - can say is, "You, the average woman, can't have this body." Because we can't: we don't have trainers or chefs or time like they do. But if she said that, no one would ever see her movies and Hollywood needs their celebs to be "aspirational" for the average person.

hatinged.com said...

i believe she also is a HUGE fan of the cleanses and colonics -- pretty disordered if you ask me.

drstaceyny said...

I suppose my bigger gripe is w/Self, not Paltrow, for advertising her behavior as a "happy relationship with food." I wish the mag would spend more time promoting a healthy relationship with food and exercise (and ways to improve body image) than advertising how to engage in unhealthy eating/exercise behaviors (or at least, it should label these as such). I realize, though, with healthier, more realistic content,I might be the only who buys the magazine (though I'd certainly spread the word around the office). ; )

grey said...

I agree with a lot of things already said by other commenters -- answering these questions is a lose/lose situation for Gwyneth, and Self shouldn't be selling her lifestyle as a healthy, normal routine.

Unfortunately, some of the realities of being a celebrity are that 1) everyone is watching your weight and 2) your weight does affect your job. This isn't the case for most people, though. Note: I'm not talking about extreme weight loss/gain that affects your health.... but if you lose or gain 10 lbs, most likely your career isn't going to suffer.

In one of these celebrity interviews, I wish someone would come out and say "I know my eating/exercise is a little restrictive/extreme, and I wouldn't be doing it if I didn't HAVE to in this industry. It's not worth it just for vanity." Of course, I really admire celebrities who don't give into that pressure to begin with (and are much better role models), but I hate the "this is normal, everyone should be eating/exercising like me" message.

Great post.

royalwebgirl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
EskieGirl said...

I saw Gwyneth on Rachael Ray's show where she made that fried zucchini you mentioned. Anyway, it seems like many people think that "healthy eating" means eliminating fats, sugars, etc. from your diet all together.

When I was in treatment for anorexia, it was more about 'everything in moderation'. There has a to be a balance somewhere, and not the mindset of compensating (via exercise) for the times where you might think you've eaten too much, or had too much of the wrong thing.

Great points made in the post, as well as all of the comments! :)

Loral said...

I strongly disagree that 90 minutes five days a week counts as "compulsive exercise," in fact, people are designed to exercise far more than that. For a reasonably fit person, moderate activity like hiking, light sports, etc. can be done all day long with no ill consequences. What determines a behavior as compulsive is doing it to a destructive level and being unable to stop. Is it a sign of unhealthy behavior that I bicycle two hours every day? That depends: am I doing it to stay thin or am I doing it because I have no car? Or even just because I enjoy the scenery? Motive makes a big difference.

Katie Mar said...

wonderfully written!
i completely agree. exercising that much is NOT healthy... so ridiculous

tuna said...

I totally agree. I thought the exact same thing when I read the article. I hate that magazines that promote "health"and loving your body/being active and eating well willrint stuff like that when so many women and young girls will assume it is right to go pn a crash diet or to always want to pose ten pounds. As guilty as I am of buying them and wanting to be a journalist in magazines, I don't understand how we keep buying them and every month they tell us we will lose the last ten pounds. I did, in fact lose the last ten pounds and ten extra and found myself in relapse to mynhigh school eating disorder and I still am intrigued. It's our culture and it needs to change! Love your blog!

spiderpiggle said...

Gwyneth Paltrow has osteporosis and bone density problems due to her excessive exercise. For it might be worth sharing.

Megan said...

I love your blog. I have the same goal in life. I've been battling my eating disorder since I was 9. Its excruciting reading and hearing and seeing everything in this world being revolved around diets and the media and celebrities. I work at starbucks and sephora. The customers that come in are so depressing because they litterally hate themselves because they aren't perfect and they are slowly killing themselves. I totally believe that every woman has an eating disorder. Im right there with you on wanting to change things. Any advice you can give me from your experience would be greatly appreciated. Its my life goal to change the industry. Thanks.

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Kim said...

I did read the article and I wasnt offended by it. I am glad she admits to overeating like the rest of us do. When we do that we have to suffer the consequences or make up for it in excersize. While, I do not think this is necessarily healthy, I think we all do it.

Steve Carroll said...

I feel its good that she admits to her over eating and its good let people know that everyone does it but I don't like how celebrities run their lives. It is not necessarily healthy depriving your body of a lot of nutrients just to look super skinny. It also doesn't portray right to her fans because a lot them follow her but in reality cant achieve what she is because they simply do not have the time.